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Lewis Hamilton finally signs new contract with Mercedes, but why did it take so long?

Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has signed a new contract with Mercedes-AMG Petronas. As a result, the Briton will be able to hunt for a new title in his trusted car from the end of March. Despite the many successes that Hamilton and Mercedes achieved together, the contract extension still took quite some effort.

“I look forward to entering my ninth season with my Mercedes teammates. Our team has achieved incredible things together and we look forward to building on our success as we continuously look for improvement both on and off the track, ”said Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 press release Team.

“We were always on a par with Lewis about continuing. The very unusual year 2020 did mean that it took a while to complete the process. Together we decided to extend the sporting relationship with a new season and start a longer term project to take the next step in our joint commitment to more diversity within our sport, ”adds team principal Toto Wolff.

Huge wage demands

Despite the nice words for each other, the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and the team had indeed become clouded in recent times. Throughout 2020, a new contract was negotiated without result. Officially, both sides continued to say they would agree, but Hamilton’s demands and Mercedes’ proposal were far apart.

According to various sources, Lewis Hamilton wanted to earn 45 million euros a year, no less than 7 million more than with his previous contract. However, the corona crisis also affected the Mercedes car brand and so was such a mega-reward Mercedes CEO Ola Källenius non-negotiable. He even hoped to convince Hamilton to agree to a pay cut.

Veto from Mercedes

Hamilton counted on his team boss Toto Wolff to convince Mercedes. It almost came to that, but when the contract was drawn up, Källenius vetoed it. He said he would rather start the season with George Russell than give in to the demands of the seven-time world champion. Russell is the dream successor of Hamilton who was allowed to replace him at the end of last season – to the detriment of the Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne – when Hamilton was infected with the corona virus. That Russell has talent, he then proved by almost winning.

The solution seemed to have been found when chemical giant Ineos bought up a third of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and was happy to comply with Hamilton’s wage demands. But Ineos also has its limits. They only wanted to give the 36-year-old Briton a one-year contract, while Hamilton himself wanted three years.

That is not even the end of the world champion’s package of requirements. He also wanted a part of the prize money that Mercedes will win next season. Finally, Hamilton also wanted to get a bigger role within the team by being allowed to choose who will be his teammate in 2022. And further in the future, Hamilton wants to continue to work for the team.

What’s in Lewis Hamilton’s new contract?

The details of Lewis Hamilton’s new contract have not been disclosed by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. Yet we can deduce a few things between the lines.

For example, the press release only mentions a collaboration for 2021. It therefore looks as if Hamilton only managed to secure a one-year contract. That’s quite interesting because next winter will be an important winter in Formula 1. From 2022, many new regulations will come into effect.

The press release, however, does mention “the start of a project in the longer term”. So agreements may have been made about Hamilton’s role within the team after his active career. Nothing is known about what wages the Briton will be paid into his account next season.

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